The class of 2020 has been dealt an interesting hand, but Southfield students are taking it in stride.
From June 18-21, Southfield Public Schools hosted several outdoor and virtual celebrations for their graduating students.
“Pomp and Circumstance” floated on the warm breeze June 19 over a sea of cars, decked out in balloons, regalia and inspirational messages.
Photo: Patricia O’Blenes
Through the safety of their cars, students from Southfield High School for the Arts and Technology, the Southfield Regional Academic Campus and University High School Academy converged on the parking lot of Hope United Methodist Church, 26275 Northwestern Highway, for a caravan in celebration of their accomplishments.
In addition to celebrating the district’s graduating class, Superintendent Jennifer Martin-Green said the event was also a celebration of Juneteenth, a nationally celebrated commemoration of the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in 1865.
“It was important for us to have the caravan of cars today given that it is the celebration of Juneteenth, because it’s important to us that our students know their history before they can plot the course for their future,” Martin-Green said.
Martin-Green said the school year came to an abrupt halt in mid-March, when Gov. Gretchen Whitmer enacted the state’s first lockdown order due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“So a lot of the senior activities were cancelled. They were not able to have a prom. … They were not able to have many of their events that they’re accustomed to having,” she said. “So we wanted to have this super senior celebration weekend. It was extremely important we had this large-scale celebration with social distancing and proper (personal protective equipment) so they know they are recognized and that we do celebrate them and their accomplishments.”
The caravan of cars followed a parade route down Evergreen Road, between Civic Center Drive and 12 Mile Road. Students cheered and honked their horns as they made their way through the route.
“2020 has always been known to be the most creative class, and even though we couldn’t have the senior year we planned to have, we got creative,” University High School Academy senior Trinity Williams said. “Although it’s hard, it’s actually really fun, and they are doing everything they can to recognize us.”
Southfield Regional Academic Campus senior Da’Nijay Ginyard said the thing that stands out to her the most about her senior year is how she and her fellow classmates never gave up.
“We never gave up, throughout COVID and everything going on,” Ginyard said. “We just pushed and finished off right.”
Donovan Rogers, a University High School Academy senior, said being in the class of 2020 has made him stronger.
“I feel very empowered to be in the quarantine class. I think some of us are some of the strongest people that I’ve ever met, because not only did we have senioritis, but we also had everything that we’ve been planning for years and years taken away from us, and we all had to collectively come together and come out of despair and be optimistic,” Rogers said.
Rogers said he was also happy to have the chance to celebrate Juneteenth with his classmates.
“All of our seniors, for the most part, were majority black, and with everything going on right now it’s just a blessing to see how brilliant our blackness is,” Rogers said. “I’m just so grateful to have this beautiful Juneteenth graduation parade.”